A fantastic peak into the early life of the poet Sylvia Plath, one of the most courageous women I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting. The Bell Jar's uncanny resemblance to Plath's real life bought her some trouble with the friends and family who recognized their fictionalized counterparts (mostly because they weren't informed of their inclusion in this particular project), which makes this even more of a heartbreaking story. Esther Greenwood mirrors Plath's talent and ambition... as well as her deeply-rooted depression, hospitalization, and shock therapy. One of the Plath's greatest strengths is her ability to effectively share her inner confusion without losing our attention. Such a GREAT read from a phenomenal woman. — Jess Hanlon
An eerie story of a girls seemingly unstoppable decent into madness. What begins as a fluid poetic coming of age story turns into a jagged and misshaped series of events as the character becomes more and more ill, then is back to fluidity as she resurfaces. Comparing her feeling of disconnect to being under a bell jar, the story gives a voice to those who have struggled with their mental health. Honest and heartbreaking look at the country's mid-century mental illness struggle. — Molly Halpin
The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.
Sylvia Plath was born in 1932 in Massachusetts. Her books include the poetry collections The Colossus, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, Ariel, and Collected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. A complete and uncut facsimile edition of Ariel was published in 2004 with her original selection and arrangement of poems. She was married to the poet Ted Hughes, with whom she had a daughter, Frieda, and a son, Nicholas. She died in London in 1963.
Maggie Gyllenhaal's stunning performance in the film Secretary garnered her a Golden Globe nomination, an Independent Spirit Award nomination and awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Board of Review. She recently appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Adaptation and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.